The parents of the marsh - We did it !

An agricultural project for pygmy families driven out of their territory
February 16, 2021
Soeur Suzanne Iloko Loali
We did it

Sister Suzanne Iloko Loali presented this project with the aim of helping the pygmy populations, the main victims of the ravages of deforestation in Congo. Driven off their own land and deprived of resources, they are forced to settle down, forbidden to exercise their right to use the forests and sometimes wandering without resources along the roads.

The Daughters of Charity community decided to use one of its 3ha½ plots of land to initiate a programme of sustainable swamp rice cultivation and thus give 12 Pygmy families the opportunity to farm it for a living.

After receiving the funds, Sister Suzanne, the project leader, was able to buy all the farming equipment (wheelbarrows, carts, tools) and the training began to introduce the volunteers to these new farming techniques.

She says:

Efelo; Ikoloto, Boika, Makolo, Boyeli; Bongongo; Baleke; Mopao; Nzee and Maulu, first learned how to plough and prepare the land. Then we showed them how to transplant rice seedlings in order to obtain a sufficient harvest while respecting the soil for the following seasons. A room was also built for storing the rice.

After drying, the grains are threshed on the ground and then "winnowed", i.e. poured into flat baskets from which they are thrown into the air, so that the wind blows the husk away.

As the pygmies are traditionally nomadic hunter-gatherers and fishermen, and are known to be expert foresters, this new training was quickly put to good use in producing, selling and living off their rice.

These men are very happy to be able to provide for their families now, knowing that their land will remain fertile.

"I am Mr. Bongongo; one of the beneficiaries of the project initiated by the Sisters of the Daughters of Charity and particularly Sister Suzanne Iloko. First of all, I would like to thank the Sister responsible for this initiative who has allowed us to work in very pleasant conditions. This project means a lot to me and my family and I hope it will not be the last. Since it was started, I have at least stability in my family and I have full time work thanks to the Sisters.

I cannot end my testimony without thanking the people of good faith who have thought of us; may they always have listening ears to our cries of alarm. As indigenous people, we are often neglected and it is difficult to find help. Without flattery, this funding is having a positive impact on my family. "

The fuel we bought makes our work much easier. At present, we have a stock of 20 bags of paddy rice (unhulled) in the storage room and soon we will sell these bags until the next harvest. This project has brought stability to the beneficiary families, as you can see by the joy on their faces. Staying unemployed is a complicated situation for any father. It has directly benefited 12 men and their families. The Daughters of Charity community wishes to expand this self-sustaining project to other beneficiaries as soon as possible.

I am so grateful for your great commitment to us especially in this time of great global crisis. Despite all the constraints of this time, you have worked alongside us for the benefit of our poor brothers and sisters! May the Lord bless you.

We continue to pray that God will heal the world of this wicked pandemic.

Once again, our sincere thanks.